Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ignorance: Alive & Well

My kids are bi-racial.  They are half Korean, and half... well... mutt.  White.  Whatever.  Caucasian to be exact.  Sometimes, when I have them out with me, and my husband isn't with me, people will ask questions.  I don't mind at all!  I love my kids. I think they are fabulous... please, ask about them!  Once, at a consignment sale, a lady said, "Where did you get your babies?"   To which I replied, without thinking, "Korea!"  She said, "really?"  I responded, "Well, yeah, Korea and my uterus.  They are bi-racial.  My husband is from Korea"  She promptly apologized, telling me that her babies were from South America, and mine looked similar to hers.  I just laughed, and told her not to worry.  I was happy to have someone notice their beautiful skin tones.  Questions like that, I don't mind. It is understandable that people might think my children are adopted.  And I would be proud if they were, of course, as adoption is the best gift you can give to a child.  I like that people notice differences.  After all, both my husband and I have adoption in our families (that's how he got here!), and we celebrate all sorts of different family make-ups.  And let's be honest... my kids are cute (in my own, extremely biased opinion)!

However, some people have less than celebratory things to say about my kids.  And I don't think they mean it at all.  But on two occasions, I have been extremely shocked (and somewhat appalled)...

Once, when the boy was about 5 months old, I was at the lab getting a blood draw.  My friend (his God Mother) was holding him in the lobby so I could go get stuck.  When I came out, the receptionist said, "Awww, your baby is so cute!"  To which I replied, "Thanks!"  But could she leave it at that?  Nooooooo... she continued, "He's so cute! He has chinky eyes."  I don't even know how to spell that word, but the point is REALLY?!?!?!?!?!? YOU JUST SAID MY BABY HAS CHINKY EYES?????????  Seriously.  I looked at her, and smiled, and said, "Well, that's because his father is Korean..."  She was mortified.  Apologizing all over herself...  Good.  Her embarrassment was a necessary side effect of her ignorance.

Fast forward a few years to when I am daycare shopping.  I show up with the girl this time, and begin the tour of the daycare.  In conversation, I mention that the girl is half Korean, which is why she doesn't look like me.  To this, the daycare provider replies, "Well, that's okay!"  Really?  Okay?  Because I definitely was not just APOLOGIZING for the race of my own child.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Before we speak, maybe we ought to think. Agreed?

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